Temper tantrums represent the stormy release of toddler frustrations. These are actually necessary expressions of your child’s emotions before he can verbalize anger and frustration.
They may occur frequently and more often when your child is tired, hungry or restrained for a long period of time (for example, in a car seat during a long trip.) You must teach your child that this is not an acceptable way of expressing his emotions. The earlier you address this behavior, the sooner it will begin to disappear. In this article we will take a closer look at the following common questions related to temper tantrums:
What should I do during the tantrum?
The most important thing you can do when your child is having a tantrum is to remain unemotional and un-phased by this behavior — this is not easy! One suggestion is to pretend that you are an anthropologist on the Discovery Channel, watching a species of wild animal doing a ritual dance. Remove yourself emotionally from the scene. Remember — you are the parent in control, she is the child, not in control.
Next, remove the audience. If you are alone at home, simply turn away and walk a short distance from your child. If others are around, remove your child to another room and remain close by. It is very important not to abandon your child when she is having a tantrum. It is very frightening for your child to have a tantrum and she needs to know you will not let her totally lose control. If the tantrum goes on for longer than five minutes, place your arms around your child, to help slow her down.
Give your toddler words for his feelings. Say gently, “I know you are angry.” “I know you are upset.” Over time he will begin to understand what these words mean. He will not have to act out his feelings as intensely if he knows you get the message.
When the tantrum begins to slow down, you can offer some soothing moments alone together. This lets your child know that you still love him and understand that he is upset.
What shouldn’t I do?
Remember — if a tantrum is in progress – do not show your child that you are upset. Never hit your child during a tantrum. You do not want to reward your child, either positively or negatively, during a tantrum.
What if you are in a very public place such as a supermarket?
Experts are divided about how to handle this situation. One method is to leave the cart full of food behind and remove the child from the store to the car. He can have the tantrum alone. If it ends, you can finish your shopping. If not, remind yourself that this limit setting is more important at this moment than the groceries.
Another method is to allow the child to have the tantrum in the store. This can be very draining for you, the parent, however, for you may have to explain to the other customers and shop owners why you are blocking the aisle.